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Offaly opener vital for Dubs

O'TOOLE PARK is a cosy venue. It's a neat fit for the Dubs. On Saturday, they'll begin their Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Championship campaign there against Offaly.

It will recall the drama of last year's All-Ireland quarter-final between the pair in a sun-drenched Parnell Park.

It was the first Saturday in August. The legendary Con Houlihan had died that morning. There was a minute's silence in Donnycarney.

Dublin entered the game on the back of a brilliant extra-time victory over Kilkenny in Portlaoise. Dublin camogie was walking tall again.

A big crowd arrived in Parnell Park. And for Dublin camogie on that afternoon, the Donnycarney Roar was reborn.

The Blues were bubbling. They led by seven points at one stage in the first half, but when the credits rolled, Offaly had won by a single point to advance to their first All-Ireland semi-final.

Disappointment for Denis Murphy and company, but realism and a dash of pride too. "Losing out on a place in the All-Ireland semi-final by a point has to be considered progress," reflected the Dublin boss.

And now, 10 months on, the challenge is to keep the wheels spinning. "This is a vital game for us because a victory sets you up for the remainder of the campaign," said Denis.

"It would be hugely beneficial to get off to a positive start because we have to travel to Cork then before we are at home to Tipperary."

Dublin will be without Anne Griffin, who has a broken hand. The brilliant Ballyboden St Enda's star impressed against Wexford in the Leinster Championship.

The highlight of Dublin's National League programme was beating Wexford, the All-Ireland three-in-a-row champs. But, as Denis acknowledges, one swallow doesn't make a dinner.

He wants more beads on the necklace. "What we are looking for is consistency. We have proved we can compete at the top level. It's a matter now of carrying that through and maintaining our progress."


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